Joe and Jill Biden dress down into jeans and sneakers for a quiet drink outside their Cornwall hotel after meeting Boris and Carrie Johnson, cracking jokes about marriage and ‘reaffirming the special relationship’
Officials blasted a new report over tensions over Northern Ireland as ‘wrong’
‘It will not be controversial or adversarial,’ a senior administration official said of Biden-Johnson sit down. ‘He didn’t come here to give a lecture’
Biden and Johnson have multiple personal and professional differences
President Joe Biden and his wife Jill dressed down into sneakers and jeans for a drink outside their hotel in Cornwall after meeting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie.
The pair walked to the outdoor seating area of the Tregenna Castle Hotel in St. Ives to the shock of guests and waiting press to unwind after their bilateral meeting – where Jill met Carrie’s newborn son Wilfred and Biden and Boris cracked jokes. It’s not clear what the pair ordered as they sat at their table. President Biden doesn’t drink alcohol.
Biden and Johnson downplayed their differences and emphasized the ‘special relationship’ between their two nations on Thursday during their first face-to-face meeting.
‘We had a good first full day in the UK. Prime Minister Johnson and I had a very productive meeting,’ Biden said. ‘We affirmed the special relationship — it’s not said lightly — the special relationship between our people.’
Biden gave Johnson a new bike and helmet, according to British reports. And Johnson called his American counterpart a ‘breath of fresh air.’
‘The talks were great. They went on for a long time. We covered a huge range of subjects. It’s wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and Joe Biden because there’s so much they want to do together with us,’ the prime minister told the BBC.
‘It’s fantastic. It’s a breath of fresh air,’ he said of the American president.
The love fest came after Biden and Johnson, along with their wives Jill and Carrie, held a picturesque photo-op by the ocean amid a transatlantic row between the two nations over Northern Ireland.
Johnson down played a report that the US was unhappy with his government’s handling of Northern Ireland during Brexit talks with the European Union.
‘There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, to find solutions and make sure we uphold the Belfast/Good Friday agreement,’ he said.
At their meeting, the two leaders downplayed tensions between their nations and joked about their personal lives.
Sitting next to the prime minister on Thursday afternoon, Biden recycled one of his favorite lines, saying the two men had something in common – both married above their station. Boris, 56, and Carrie Johnson, 33, married on May 29.
‘I’m thrilled to meet your wife. I told the prime minister we have something in common: we both married above our station,’ Biden, 78, said.
‘I’m not going to disagree with the president there,’ Johnson responded.
‘Or indeed on anything else. I think it highly likely,’ he added, in what was interpreted as a sly reference to the Northern Ireland issue.
The two couples met on a scenic deck overlooking St Ives Bay, England, a view of the Atlantic Ocean in front of them.
‘It gorgeous. I don’t want to go home,’ Biden said.
Ahead of the meeting, officials tried to down play reports of a strain between Biden and Johnson after a report the president ordered the rebuke of the prime minister. The White House called the report ‘wrong’ and emphasized the special relationship between the two nations.
First lady Jill Biden, 70, was on message for the meet-and-greet, wearing a blazer with the word ‘love’ on the back.
‘I think that we’re bringing love from America. This is a global conference and we are trying to bring unity across the globe and I think it’s needed right bow, that people feel a sense of unity from all the countries and feel a sense hope after this year of the pandemic,’ she said.
After the picturesque greeting, Biden and Johnson split off to view the 1941 Atlantic Charter – they signed a new version at their sit down – and then began their 90 minute meeting. The ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK began during the dark days of World War II.
Jill Biden told reporters the president had been ‘studying for weeks’ ahead of his first foreign trip. ‘I think he’s so well prepared. He’s been studying for weeks, working up to today. Of course he knows most of the leaders that‘ll be here. Joe loves foreign policy. This is his forte,’ she said.
While the president and prime minister met, Jill Biden, wearing a custom Brandon Maxwell dress, and Carrie Johnson, in a red LK Bennett gown, took baby Wilfred to the beach for a stroll and dip in the water. Downing Street released photos of the event and Wilfred’s face was not visible in the pictures.
The flurry of friendly photo-ops and joking repartee gave the message loud and clear: the US-UK special relationship is strong and there is no dissension here.
The face-to-face meeting came after White House backed down following a report Biden rebuked Johnson for ‘inflaming tensions’ in Northern Ireland.
Officials tried to put out the diplomatic fire amid personal professional differences between the two leaders.
The flames were fanned when The Times UK reported that Biden ordered US officials to give Johnson an extraordinary diplomatic rebuke for putting the Northern Ireland peace process at risk over Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
Biden officials quickly denied the report ahead of the bilateral talks between the two leaders.
President Biden will not get ‘controversial or adversarial’ when he speaks to Johnson about Northern Ireland.
‘It will not be controversial or adversarial,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call ahead of the leaders’ sit down. ‘He didn’t come here to give a lecture.’
Biden will say to Johnson ‘what he has said publicly for a long time now,’ the official noted.